Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout



It's 9:40 on Sunday night and I haven't yet throught of what to say to you. The rest of this page is done and ready to upload, but what have I been thinking and doing and what can I possibly say about it? Well, I'm still thinking a lot still about planes and what they were crashed into and what that means for the individual lives and national and global interests involved. I can't pretend to be able to think about these things better than other people but they won't give over their space in my thoughts and I know they shouldn't. Daily things encroach: housecleaning (for a change), work (next week is orientation, one of my busiest and most stressful weeks of the year), Sophia needing her mouse tossed down the stairs (bless her).

Did the planes coming toward Seattle always fly this low above our house? I don't remember seeing them this close before, though I do remember how quiet those days were when the only planes flying were military jets.

I'm bone-tired of talking about all these things. But I still keep reading and thinking.

Right now Sophia is asleep on the day bed behind me in a box leftover from when I was sifting through all my piles of papers, which come to think of it I never quite finished dealing with. Jim is in the kitchen making his lunch to take to work with him tomorrow, asking me if he should take peach or peach yoghurt with him. "Try peach for a change!" I yell down the hall to him. I don't know where Zach is--probably in the living room, sleeping; if I were a 15-year-old cat that's what I'd be doing. I went and visited Tamar's cat Genki this afternoon, as she is out of town for a couple of days. He was happy to see me, but I didn't give him enough scratches as she had two newspapers that I had to look at, not having read a newspaper in months. I guess I really don't miss getting the paper that much, though reading it used to be part of my daily routine. Now I have that much more time to read other things, and we do listen to the news on the radio.

Jim's still crashing around in the kitchen. Jorane is on the updated stereo.

Sometimes I wonder if things will be like this a year from now, two years from now, five years from now, ten. It will be interesting to find out. While the country around us grieves and prepares for war with persons mostly unknown. While the economy falters. While everyone wonders just how much worse things can get.

Zach just walked in to look out my window--it's the only one open now that Jim has closed the place up for night. It's lovely out there, a balmy-edged-with-cool September evening. Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox, but it is only just slightly apparent, there just that cool edge. The leaves aren't even turning yet, despite the drought here this summer.

Good night, sweet dreams, take care, and may we all weather the current storms safely with grace, with dignity, with love, with peace. May every darkness be matched with light.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


We're still really enjoying the improved sound of our new stereo components, spending more time listening in the living room than is our usual. My favourite recent disc, Björk's Vespertine sounds mighty fine over the system. Vespertine is full of intriguing little sounds so it's great to hear them.

Bought the new Tori Amos, Strange Little Girls, but have only listened to it a couple of times, as I don't find it particularly compelling. I like the title track, and much to my surprise I quite like "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" her version of the Eminem song. The problem is that I really don't know too many of the originals of these songs so I can't appreciate what's she's done with them. I know "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and like her version okay, "Heart of Gold" and find her version interesting, and "I'm Not in Love" but I find her version not as intriguing as the original. The rest of them are all songs that I missed as I don't listen to music radio much and haven't for almost 20 years. And to think of them as Tori songs, well, they're just missing something.

What I have been listening to and finding compelling, besides Vespertine, is a three-song promo samples that Terami Hirsch sent me. These are three wonderful tracks that make me want to keep hitting the repeat button over and over again. These are samples from her forthcoming album, and if these are any indications of what it's going to be like, I know I'm going to like it as much or more than her debut, All Girl Band.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Lois McMaster Bujold's Mirror Dance is the next in the series of Vorkosigan novels. I am finding it less and less useful to describe the plots of these: they're space adventures. They remain entertaining. (Other volumes commented on in my July 15, August 19, and August 26 and September 16th entries).

Sara Ryan is a member of my fiction writing workshop, but her young adult novel, Empress of the World was critiqued in the group before I joined. It was just published last month. This is the story of Nic, who is attending a summer program for gifted teenagers, and the group of friends she makes there. Much to her own surprise, Nic finds herself infatuated with another girl, Battle, and delightfully Battle returns her feelings. This is Nic telling her story in a straightforward way that rings true and makes her emotional ups and downs and her discoveries come to life.

And then the library had the next Miles Vorkosigan adventure waiting for me, Memory, which I inhaled. In this one Miles is called back home but suddenly the head of Imperial Security, who has called him back is having memory problems, and Miles needs to figure out what's going on. This is a particularly fascinating one, as Miles learns a lot more about himself.

I'm not sure exactly what age Alice Hoffman's Aquamarine is written for; I suppose for young adult or maybe a little younger. It's about two friends, one of whom has to move away at the end of the summer, and they're trying to make the most of their last days together when they discover that a storm has deposited a cranky, lovestruck mermaid in the pool of the Capri Beach Club which is shortly to be turned into a bird sanctuary. A charming, very quick read.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Got word this week that my poem, "Wearing Nothing But the Midnight Sun", is an Editor's Choice in Arc magazine's Poem of the Year Contest. This is the fourth time one of my poems have been chosen, though this is the second time by this particular member of their editorial team. That's delightful news--I must say I like being an Editor's Choice kind of gal. I do confess to a tiny, momentary twinge of regret that I didn't actually place in the contest, but only a brief one--I think I would rather be an editor's choice in the long run. It has more caché to me that "third prize".

I finally finished a first version of my poem about the Auchindrain Folk Museum. It turned out to be six pages, though at one point it had bloated up to eight. I left it in the hands of my poetry workshop group to go over next time we meet. Usually we bring the poems to go over that day, but since this is so long I wanted to give them extra time to look at it.

I finished the first draft of another poem and brought it to the meeting but I decided not to bring it out, as it was about Lockerbie/Pan Am 103 and written in response to the recent world events and I just didn't want to make people look at it now. Maybe later. It was a hard enough session as we looked at a poem about the death of one group member's father and another about one group member's battle with cancer. It seems to be time for people to talk about hard things and we'd done that enough this session.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April - May 1980

1150. A Breath of Rain                                         April 20, 1980

The winter rains walk into
the spring.

In this ocean of rain and air
that tastes thickly of leaves,
the forest sinks around me.
Roots stretch more deeply
into the soil, but
cedars begin to sway,
and land, broken, onto
the film of leaves.
The thimbleberries, the salal
finally grow green;
I push my wy
through this.

The snake fence is beginning
to ease down the hill to the road.
Only yards below it
the car door waits, rusting,
The seats, too, are left,
they sit deeper
in the forest, bounded by
fallen cedar. The pornographic
pages of a magazine rot
below a tree whose entire
east side aches with sap.
I lost my balance there,
and have to lean against
that tree.

I used to walk along these logs.
Now I see the moss is heavier,
somehow greener on them,
and they are slippery with rain
and hollow. The trilliums
are in virginal bloom
in the decaying leaves.
The bush tightens around me
in the clearing.

I push my way through
this; around me
the forest crumbles. [1]

1151. Night in Solitude                                         April 26, 1980

Already almost a week past, spent madly finishing, ordering, re-working my manuscript [2], and now it's all over. Already it is tnoight, and I'm in soliture. The dog is upstairs, but Mom & Dad are at Cape Mudge, and the cat is out in the dark. I am tired, I am pushing, trying to change myself, trying to enjoy solitude while sidestepping boredon. I have so many million little things to do, but nothing big--not even a poem sends signs on the horizon. My eyes sting and wnat to close. When I wake up I will have lost an hour in the shuffle of the seasons and daylight savings time. My clock is not fond of the change--my body will be even less. Everything will be slightly askew for a while.

1152. I've been neglecting                                         May 5th 1980

I've been neglecting to write for the last two weeks, while I finished off my manuscript, typed it up and handed it in, and then mentally collapsed. I haven't even been reading anything valuable, much less writing. The only thing have been writing is letters.
     So now it's really May, and it was as hot as August at Gillain's yeaterday, the second of my four nights. Tonight here I am and it is chillier, and darker. The signs of teh earliest part of the spring are over. My curreant bush has faded, as have all the daffodils growing wild between our house and the forest. I imagine that the trilliums in the woods have faded, too. Now the dogwoods are in full bloom, and at the end of last month, when the moon was full, they glowed like spectres in the moonlight. On my desk here I mave lilacs, They smell divine. I have tea and a notebook, which is too much for me, and is everything. It is so quiet here.
     I have bought fresh eggs. They are brown and real. They come from real hens, which eat real food, and don't live on an assemply line. This is amazing, and real, so unlike everything.
     I would like to really do something. To write a poem, or read a learning book, or learn something. It is so quiet here.

1153. Calendar of Events                                         

I've been so good lately, and this is to see how little I've accomplished:
     Wed. April 23--manuscript due
     Thursday, April 24--errands at UVic, including stopping in to see Robin, who told me that I did well with my manuscript and that I should try to find a publisher. It oviously isn't great, because he did not offer to publish it himself [3] but still he was encouraging.
     Friday, April 25--Buglet in for all sorts of exciting repairs.
     Saturday April 26--dinner out with Jocelyn, Trina, and Grandma while Mom and Dad were away
     Sunday April 27--Jocelyn's birhtday--dinner with her at hte Yokohama Village
     Monday & Tuesday--evening shift at Gillain, shoppping with Linda
     Wendesday, April 30th--a day and night at Pender Island with Monique planting bulbs, sweeping, washing windows, moving logs, and enjoying her cabin.
     Thrusday May 1st--back on the first ferry and then Randy came over and we had a super day otgher. Evening just lying in each others' arms and talking, like old and close friends.
     Friday was errands again,
     and since then evening shift at Gillain to cover all my time.
     I don't know why any of this is important, but here it is, chronicled.

1154. The Cycles                                         May 15th 1980

And again the time has spun by. I don't know why I can't be consistent with my writing here--but I do, it's because I am in the middle of one of those middle states, transition periods. I feel as though I have outgrown and burst one skin, and am about to enter another. An so, right now, I am unsure of who or what I am. I only know a few things. I know that I am of and from this place--the coast and the forest and I grow from it, and into it. Since I was two I have disappeared into the rainforest [4], and now I feel it even more strongly. The forest is all of my memory. The rain is my blood.
     Last night it rained, and I knew it would and lay in this bed, awake, until it began. Once it came I could sleep. The rain felt so near, sounded so different from the winter rain as it falls on the thick new growth rather than on the rot o the winter. The rainforest cycles through rot and growth, and each contributes to each, and this is how I am. I am at the stage where they are both equal, but the growth is beginning to overcome an I will become until I fall again.


1. This poem, with only minor changes, appears in Seven Robins as part III of "Island Forest".

2. The first incarnation of Seven Robins, which was then entitled something like Rainshadow, which is a perfectly fine word as far as what it means but feels mightily twee.

3. At the time, Robin was the editor of Sono Nis Press, which published several of my classmates. Robin did, in fact, offer to publish it a couple of years later and seemed a little hurt that I hadn't offered it to him, but it was already committed elsewhere.

4. This is true. There was a forest beside the house that my parents were renting at the time they first moved to Vancouver, and I used to wander off with the dog next door down the forest path. Once I reportedly made it all the way to the Trans-Canada Highway. Mother says the only way to get me back was to call the dog back, and I'd follow. I'm sure this is one of the reasons why Mom's hair rapidly started turning grey about this time. I was really good at slipping out the door without her noticing.

last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout

Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week

Email comments, questions, and complaints to neile@sff.net § Neile's main page

3336 people have wandered through this week with me